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74,881 News Articles

Five technologies that will change the face of IT

USB 3.0, 3DTV and other technologies

We look at five technologies that look set to become part of every day lives very soon, to find out how they'll change our lives.

HTML5

Hulk VI was great, but what should you watch this evening?

Before heading off to work in the morning, you click to some trailers on a movie website, but you don't have time to watch many.

So you use your mobile phone to snap a picture of the 2D barcode on one of the videos; the phone's browser then takes you to the same site.

On the commuter train to the office, you watch the previews over a 4G mobile phone connection. A few of the movies have associated games that you try out on your phone, too.

Remember when every website had a badge that read 'optimised for Netscape Navigator' or 'requires Internet Explorer 4'?

In the old days, people made web pages that worked best with - or only with - certain browsers. To some extent, they still do.

The new flavor of the HTML - the standard program for writing web pages - called HTML5 (Hypertext Markup Language version 5); and HTML5 aims to put that practice to bed for good.

Specifically, HTML5 may do away with the need for audio, video, and interactive plug-ins.

It will allow designers to create websites that work essentially the same on every browser - whether on a desktop, a laptop, or a mobile device - and it will give users a better, faster, richer web experience.

Instead of leaving each browser maker to rely on a combination of its in-house technology and third-party plug-ins for multimedia, HTML5 requires that the browser have built-in methods for audio, video, and 2D graphics display.

Patent and licensing issues cloud the question of which audio and video formats will achieve universal support, but companies have plenty of motivation to work out those details.

In turn, website designers and web app developers won't have to deal with multiple incompatible formats and workarounds in their efforts to create the same user experience in every browser.

This is an especially valuable advance for mobile devices, as their browsers today typically have only limited multimedia support.

The iPhone's Safari browser, for example, doesn't handle Adobe Flash - even though Flash is a prime method of delivering video content across platforms and browsers.

"It'll take a couple of years to roll out, but if all the browser companies are supporting video display with no JavaScript [for compatibility handling], just the video tag and no plug-in, then there's no downside to using a mobile device," says Jeffrey Zeldman, a web designer and leading web standards guru.

"Less and less expert users will have better and better experiences."

Makers of operating systems and browsers appear to be falling into line behind HTML5. Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Opera, and WebKit (the development package that underlies many mobile and desktop programs), among others, are all moving toward HTML5 support.

For its part, Microsoft says that Internet Explorer 8 will support only parts of HTML5.

But Microsoft may not want to risk having its Internet Explorer browser lose more market share by resisting HTML5 in the face of consensus among the other OS and browser makers.

HTML5 is now completing its last march toward a final draft and official support by the World Wide Web Consortium.

See also: 13 new technologies coming to your PC

  1. USB 3.0, 3DTV and other technologies could change the way we live
  2. More on USB 3.0
  3. Video streaming over Wi-Fi
  4. Where 802.11ad comes in
  5. 3D TV
  6. More on 3D TV
  7. 'Augmented Reality' in mobile devices
  8. More on augmented reality
  9. HTML5

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